STATE BOARD PICKS DESE DEPUTY AS EDUCATION BOSS
The Missouri State Board of Education on Dec. 18 unanimously selected Dr. Margaret Vandeven as the next commissioner of education, the top administrative position at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Vandeven was the only current DESE official and only woman among the five announced finalists for the job. She was also the only finalist who isn’t a current or former local school district superintendent.
Vandeven has worked at DESE for nine years, most recently as deputy commissioner for the Division of Learning Services. Before joining the department, Vandeven spent 13 years as an English teacher and administrator at private schools in Missouri and Maryland.
Vandeven will replace Dr. Chris Nicastro, who is retiring as education commissioner at the end of the year. Nicastro’s five-year tenure was marked by controversy in recent years and led to several lawmakers demanding her resignation. Criticisms included allegations of bid-rigging regarding a contract to develop recommendations for overhauling the then-unaccredited Kansas City School District and her role in DESE’s implementation of a state law that allows students in unaccredited school districts to transfer to nearby accredited districts.
NIXON PROPOSES BOND ISSUE TO FUND CAPITOL REPAIRS
Gov. Jay Nixon will ask lawmakers to authorize between $40 million and $75 million in bonds to finance much-needed repairs to Missouri’s nearly century-old Capitol. Nixon, joined by several lawmakers and reporters, toured the Capitol’s substructure on Dec. 16 to highlight the extensive damage caused by decades of water damage.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing the sale of up to $400 million in bonds for repairs and renovations to state buildings. When the 2015 legislative session gets underway in January, Nixon plans to seek legislative approval to use some of the bonding authority for repairs to the Capitol.
Missouri’s current Capitol was completed in 1917 and is the third permanent Capitol located in Jefferson City. Its two predecessors were both destroyed by fire, the first in 1837 and the second in 1911.
MISSOURI’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE LOWEST SINCE 2008
Missouri’s unemployment rate last month was the state’s lowest in six-and-a-half years, according data from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined from 5.9 percent in October to 5.6 percent in November for the state’s lowest unemployment rate since May 2008.
Seasonally adjusted, non-farm employment increased by 4,500 jobs in November. Missouri has added 42,000 jobs through the first 11 months of 2015.